The Success Foundation Staff recently visited one of our grant recipients at Greeley West High School. Mr. Tom Nugent received a $2,000 grant to hire a composer to come work with his orchestra students on their own composition projects. Mr. Nugent recognizes that while musical ensembles are wonderful places to learn musical technique and performance, they rarely provide the opportunity for students to explore their own creative musical ideas. This project has allowed them to compose their own music, and learn from a successful 21st century composer how he plans, composes, rehearses, and markets his own music.
During our visit, each group of students explained where they got their inspiration for the pieces they are working on. This ranged from historic battles or character development, to family road trips or the loss of a loved one. Through this project, students are learning the importance of time signatures and rhythm, key signatures and chord structure that help them develop the sound they’re imagining, and how to write for instrumentation that is not the instrument they normally play. The most challenging part of this project is that it’s all done with paper and pencil which means they’re not instantly hearing what they’re writing like they would if they were using a music composition software.The composer had students play lines of each other’s pieces on their instruments or the piano. A lot of the students were very surprised by the sound, realizing that it wasn’t what they wanted.
The next step of this project is for students to enlist the help of their classmates to play parts of their pieces to make sure they’re getting the sound they want. They will eventually put this into a composition program on the computer, and will present their pieces at a final concert, along with a piece the composer wrote for their class.
We are excited to see the end result of this grant project at their concert on February 27, 2019!